light into ashes
Jul 20, 2009 8:01pm
pre-'74 Dead films - a list
I don't think there's been much information made public about it, but I'm sure the whole Tivoli show was filmed - what we have is a Danish TV broadcast from '72.
Perhaps the full show will come out on DVD someday, but it would depend on whether the songs that weren't used for the original film were preserved. Judging by TV stations' normal practice, I would guess all unused film was dumped.
The Dead also taped a short show for the German show Beat Club on 4.21.72 - only one song, Saturday Night, was broadcast & has been released, and it's possible nothing else was kept.
Part of the Family Dog 2.4.70 show (Hard to Handle & China>Rider) has been released as the "Night at the Family Dog" DVD (with Jefferson Airplane & Santana) - well worth seeing.
(I should also mention the related film Go Ride the Music, with performances from Jefferson Airplane & Quicksilver Messenger Service, if you like those bands.)
Bits of the Festival Express in summer '70 came out in that movie - Don't Ease Me In & New Speedway Boogie. (Much better are the DVD extras - Easy Wind & Hard to Handle.)
The "Last Days of the Fillmore" DVD has Casey Jones & Johnny B Goode from 7.2.71. (Note that the DVD is not the full original film, several other bands' performances were cut out.) Unfortunately, I've read that although the Dead's whole show was filmed, the 'outtakes' were all dumped, so it's unlikely any more will be seen of that show.
You already know about the Grateful Dead Movie DVD with lots of extra stuff from their 10/74 shows, I'm sure.
I'm amazed that the Dead allowed the Lovelight from Woodstock to be released. Maybe someday the Viola Lee from Monterey will appear on some super-expanded Monterey Festival box set? (I don't think any more of that show was filmed though - Pennebaker stopped after one song.)
The Viola Lee - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axAfNjgdey4
There was a Bickershaw Festival DVD released some time ago - unfortunately, from what I've heard it looks like a poor-quality 'homemade' compilation, with only one Dead song, Black-Throated Wind, set to random footage.
But there's a nice page about that show here: http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/dead.html
There's also the Playboy After Dark show from '69, which is pretty easy to find and has Mountains of the Moon & St Stephen.
If you can find it, the Dead did a short TV special in August '70 called Calebration, with several songs - Easy Wind, Candyman, Casey Jones, Brokedown Palace, & Uncle John. It's in rather dodgy quality, but it's definitely worth seeing - it hasn't been released.
There are other little bits of early film floating around - (sadly, almost all of it either silent-film or brief clips) - for instance, there's a tiny little bit of a '67 Viola Lee in the film Petulia. Someone should make a complete list someday.... You can see some bits, for instance, in the Anthem to Beauty documentary, which is essential viewing.
Here's a Dancing in the Street from 1967, from the film "The Hippie Temptation" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97JXkUK6NsM
And a silent clip of some '68 Dead - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_rrw6uYHTA
Some shows, like 10.4.70 and 12.31.70, were broadcast live on TV I think, but no film was kept, and no film survives.
As for the Sunshine Daydream film, it's bewildering that it hasn't seen official release, but that's how it goes. Maybe when we're old & gray - or when our kids are.
By the way, at least one 'outtake' from the film survives, Bird Song. (!) Here are some comments from one of the filmers:
"We were all suitably scrambled. Film magazines didn’t come fast enough because the changers had melted or become distracted, cameramen went off into enchanted but unintelligible directions of wobble and warp. By the time Jack Straw rolled around the earthquakes had slowed down and the camerawork improved. Much of the warpedness was considered unacceptable at the time but today it lends a certain authenticity.
We didn’t, by any means, shoot every song. We shot what we thought would be good candidates for the thirty minute project.
That project was hijacked by the notion that what we had was far more than a few precious stones; we had an ornament. It’s taken over thirty years for the half-life of that notion to become true. In the intervening years the film spent most of its life in the pump house of the producer, Sam Field.
**A couple of years ago, at the behest of Dennis McNally who wanted to screen it in conjunction with the release of his book, we brought it up to date, digitizing and adding two new songs to the original cut: a wonderfully emotive Bird Song and a twilight Sing Me Back Home that, because of it’s fading images, can’t help but move you.**
Most of the rest of the film is as it was the day it was set aside including the animation sequences in Dark Star which, due to lack of band footage, were patched in pretty much willy-nilly from old work print provided by Dennis Pohl, a New York filmmaker. We had intended he would create original, syncopated work for the final film.
There are still a few more miles to go, fine tuning the edit, remixing the sound, before we get to the final technical hurdle, conforming 1972 technology to current DVD standards, but with patience and perseverance this may someday, be available to all."
And this is what David Lemieux said about a possible release a few years ago:
"It's not in our hands. The people who own the film, physically own the film, who produced the original one, who have restored it and are ready to do something with it...that's about all I know, that they still have it. It's in great shape and they have put some effort into doing a good HD transfer and restoring it and preserving it. We all agree that it would be a good thing to come out some day. We do have the multi-track audio, so if ever it came out I would like to think that it would come through us so it could be mixed through a proper 5.1 mix. As it is, they can't do that. The only multi-track copy that exists is ours. The fact that it's Grateful Dead music, they would have to collaborate with us anyway. Nobody could just release something. Regardless, I agree it should come out. There's a lot of songs missing from the film and that's a product of them not filming a lot of songs. What I think would be ideal would be for it to come out on DVD, 5.1 mix, and then a three CD complete show of all released from the multi-track mix. That would be very pleasing to others and us. That's another thing. We have so little of the early era. Stuff that does exist should be given proper treatment and not just slapped together and thrown out, but really do the full Grateful Dead Movie treatment with it. Give it a 5.1 with some documentaries. Interview some of the people who were involved. I don't think it would be worth doing otherwise."